Tropical diseases, including malaria and a group of infections termed neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), pose enormous threats to human health and wellbeing globally. In concert with efforts to broaden access to current treatments, it is also critical to expand research and development (R&D) of new drugs that address therapeutic gaps and concerns associated with existing medications, including emergence of resistance. Limited commercial incentives, particularly compared to products for diseases prevalent in high-income countries, have hindered many pharmaceutical companies from contributing their immense product development know-how and resources to tropical disease R&D. In this article we present WIPO Re:Search, an international initiative co-led by BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as an innovative and impactful public-private partnership model that promotes cross-sector intellectual property sharing and R&D to accelerate tropical disease drug discovery and development. Importantly, WIPO Re:Search also drives progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through case studies, we illustrate how WIPO Re:Search empowers high-quality tropical disease drug discovery researchers from academic/non-profit organizations and small companies (including scientists in low- and middle-income countries) to leapfrog their R&D programs by accessing pharmaceutical industry resources that may not otherwise be available to them.
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